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Twice as many Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2060

A new study from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health reveals that around 15 million Americans will have mild cognitive impairment or full-blown Alzheimer’s dementia by the year 2060. This is nearly triple the current number of just over 6 million people that suffer from these conditions.

The researchers analyzed information from the largest studies available on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The team used this data in a computer model they developed which accounts for the aging U.S population, and projected the numbers of people in preclinical and clinical states of Alzheimer’s disease.

The analysis showed that about 5.7 million Americans will have mild cognitive impairment and another 9.3 million will have dementia due to Alzheimer’s by the year 2060. Of the group of Americans suffering from the onset of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, 4 million will need intensive, round-the-clock care, according to the study.

Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate level of dementia that is not yet considered to be fully developed. Study lead author Ron Brookmeyer estimates that about 2.4 million Americans are currently living with this stage of impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Estimates by disease state and severity are important because the resources needed to care for patients vary so much over the course of the illness,” said Brookmeyer.

Brookmeyer explained that the findings of this study expose an urgent need to develop therapies to slow the progression of the disease in people who have indications of cognitive decline that could lead to Alzheimer’s dementia.

“There are about 47 million people in the U.S. today who have some evidence of preclinical Alzheimer’s, which means they have either a build-up of protein fragments called beta-amyloid or neurodegeneration of the brain but don’t yet have symptoms,” said Brookmeyer. “Many of them will not progress to Alzheimer’s dementia in their lifetimes. We need to have improved methods to identify which persons will progress to clinical symptoms, and develop interventions for them that could slow the progression of the disease, if not stop it all together.”

The study, which is the first of its kind to estimate the numbers of Americans living with mild cognitive impairment or preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, is published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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